Front Street Shipyard in the US has received a a $667,028 grant from the US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration as part of its 2018 Small Shipyard Grants programme.

The Maine-based yard will use the funds to purchase a Flow Mach 700 Waterjet Cutting Machine. The equipment will streamline the construction of custom and production vessels, reducing costs and improving quality of the end-products.

Front Street Shipyard's new waterjet cutting machine will be the largest of its kind in the State of Maine, says the yard. Capable of cutting nearly any material including stainless steel and titanium, it will machine very large parts such as wooden frames for recreational boat moulds and carbon fibre panels for commercial ferry construction.

"With a machine of this size and capability we hope to attract diverse projects, including non-marine applications," says Front Street president JB Turner in a statement.

Maine Senator Susan Collins, chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, says: "A new waterjet cutting machine will help diversify Front Street Shipyard's services to include a new production line, greatly enhancing its global competitiveness and making the shipyard the only US company with these unique manufacturing capabilities.

"By helping Front Street Shipyard purchase this new machine, this investment will help boost Belfast's local economy and create approximately 40 new jobs at the shipyard," she adds.

The waterjet cutting machine will be installed in Front Street Shipyard's new addition to its facility, currently under construction on a lot adjacent to its existing yard. The 22,500sq ft building will accommodate large yacht refits and commercial vessel construction projects while adding dozens more full-time jobs at Front Street Shipyard.

Front Street Shipyard will begin installation and operation of the waterjet cutting machine early this winter.